If he is elected president, Sen. Barack Obama (D-IL) has said on numerous occasions that he plans to begin a phased withdrawal to remove all U.S. combat troops from Iraq by the summer of 2010.
But today on ABC’s This Week, New York Times columnist Tom Friedman said that as president, Obama would abandon the hunt for Osama bin Ladan and decide that the U.S. could “win the war” in Iraq by staying another six months:
FRIEDMAN: I think everything we believe could be wrong. That is Iraq could turn out — that Osama — sorry, not searching for Osama bin Laden could be not the biggest issue for Obama. I think you could actually find out that Obama can win the Iraq war and he will want to actually continue our presence in Iraq for — until 2011.
When host George Stephanopoulos noted that even Gen. David Petraeus refuses to use the terms “victory” or “winning” for Iraq, Friedman walked back his comments slightly, saying Obama would bring Iraq to a “decent ending” but ultimately, “they will conclude that Afghanistan is a loser.” Watch it:
Friedman has gained notoriety since the start of the Iraq war (which he supported) for continually boiling down “the intricacies of the Iraq situation into a make-or-break deadline” lasting “six months” — otherwise known as the “Friedman Unit.”
But it seems Friedman may have broken a promise he made in September 2007 when he announced that he would no longer be calling for six more months in Iraq to get things right. “I’m afraid we’ve run out of six months. It’s really time to set a deadline,” he said.
STEPHANOPOULOS: We just learned this week that General Petraeus leaving Iraq going to head the central command announced a hundred-day review of all policy across the Middle East, across his command and, Tom, let me begin here with you. Because we’re now facing a situation where it looks like we’re in the final stages of negotiating a status forces agreement with Iraq where there’s going to be a deadline for the troops to leave in 2011 — combat troops in 2009 so you see a convergence on Iraq. Given that, what is most likely going to be the first crisis the foreign policy national security crisis the next president will have to address?
FRIEDMAN: I think everything that we believe — there was a great piece in The Washington Post today by Bill Emmott, former editor of The Economist who was basically sort of examining all the sort of conventional wisdom about what will happen next, you know that America will become weaker, not stronger and what not. And I think he was on to something. I think everything we believe could be wrong. That is Iraq could turn out — that Osama — sorry, not searching for Osama bin Laden could be not the biggest issue for Obama. I think you could actually find out that Obama can win the Iraq war and he will want to actually continue our presence in Iraq for — until 2011.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Even Petraeus doesn’t use the word “victory.”
FRIEDMAN: Well I don’t mean win — he could bring it to a decent ending. That’s what I mean. Nobody is going to win the Iraq war. That’s off the agenda. And actually get out of Afghanistan. That they will conclude that Afghanistan is a loser and if you listen to what Petraeus has been saying lately, he’s not been for the surge in Afghanistan. He has been looking for a much more flexible, low footprint approach. I think they understand that maybe you can bring – maybe — Iraq in for a decent end and Afghanistan is probably a loser.